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SEEdesign – Sharing Experience on Design Support for SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent a key element of national economies throughout the world and are therefore present in the core of most of the policies for regional development. The ultimate challenge is to help such companies to survive and grow. To do this it is necessary to create a sustainable advantage that will allow them to compete in the market on a basis other than cost. As the effective use of design can be useful in adding value to their products and services (therefore strengthening their business) regional governments have been endeavouring to promote the use of design within this sector.

The partners of this operation are design organisations appointed by the regional authorities to undertake this task. They help to deliver the regional strategy for providing assistance for SMEs in design issues. According to the local and economic scenario, each organisation has developed different expertise and mechanisms for delivering this advisory service. They have achieved maturity with a track record of successful support for their local small business sector and now are willing to share their experiences and enter a dialogue about how to further improve their services. Seven organisations make up this partnership: PDR-Design Wales (UK), Design Flandres (BE), The Design Centrum of the Czech Republic (CZ), Design Centre Rhone-Alps (FR), Experimental Centre for Furniture and Furnishing - CSM (IT), Danish Design Centre (DK) and The University of Manchester / CRIC (UK).

Activities during the three-year lifespan of the project will include a series of workshops and seminars that will involve the seven partners, invited design programmes and representatives of the small business sector in the exchange of experiences in the practice of design support. A website, network database, library of good practices and bulletins will be used to disseminate information.

In parallel, the design organisations will be cooperating to assess the impact (or value) of their design advisory activity to the local economies. This will address the widely recognized problem of a lack of reliable feedback in this field. The outcome of this activity will contribute significantly to the task of policy makers in developing improved strategies for design support in the SME sector.

SEEdesign is a 3-year project part-financed by the European Union Development Fund (ERDF) within the INTERREG IIIC Programme. Its goal is to capture and build upon the knowledge accumulated within the various design support programmes. As a result it will help to improve the delivery of regional policies, enhance the development of skills and knowledge that offer a sustainable competitive advantage to regional European SMEs via more effective design support programme.

To improve the effectiveness of the support provided for local SMEs relating to design issues in Europe, creating a network for the dissemination of good practices on this field.

1. To create opportunities for practitioners to share their experience of facilitating design support within SMEs, to learn from best practice, to discuss common problems and to debate new issues for the future of this activity;

2. To create a forum for listening and learning from SMEs about their experience in being advised on design issues, their criticisms and suggestions for improved service;

3. To discuss the significance of design in enhancing the competitiveness of enterprises and its economic impact, based on an objective analysis of design support programmes;

4. To strengthen cooperation throughout European design bodies by disseminating information gathered during the project and therefore encourage them to transfer and sustain good examples into practice;

5. To stimulate new initiatives in design support for local small companies across Europe, in particular in the weaker regions, providing them with the opportunity to establish contacts with and learn from other practitioners;

6. To build a constructive network of European design organisations for the exchange of good practice in design support and to facilitate cooperation in future joint projects.

For further information about SEEdesign contact:

Gisele Raulik (admin@seedesign.org), at Design Wales.
Design Wales
Western Avenue – UWIC
Tel: 44 (0)29 20 417028
Fax: 44 (0)29 20 416970
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